After a rough outing last week against the Miami Dolphins, third year quarterback Blaine Gabbert will take the field Saturday against the New York Jets with a majority of the projected starting offense around him. With Justin Blackmon and Maurice Jones-Drew returning to the lineup, Gabbert will have more playmakers around him to help against a revamped Jets defense. Gabbert will be without first round pick Luke Joeckel and his number one receiver in Cecil Shorts III, but he still needs have a good outing to distance himself from Chad Henne.
Besides the quarterbacks, there are a few other players who should be on your radar Saturday night.
Safety Jonathan Cyprien
Second round pick Jonathan Cyprien has been a force in practice since coming off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Known for his range and his big hitting, Cyprien should immediately upgrade what has a been a mediocre at-best secondary over the past few years. Quarterback Mark Sanchez is prone to some hilariously awful mistakes, and he’ll be even more handicapped by a lack of legitimate playmakers at wide receiver. Sanchez was particularly bad in the intermediate-to-deep center of the field (-8.5 PFF rating) and Cyprien should have plenty of chances to make plays on the ball or punish whoever is making a catch over the middle of the field.
Tight End Marcedes Lewis
Veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis made headlines this week when he gave the offense an earful after their worst practice of training camp. Unfortunately Lewis was part of the problem as he reportedly couldn’t haul in a couple of catchable balls. This is a big year for Marcedes and he’s supposed to become a bigger part of the passing game with some help from Luke Joeckel at right tackle. Joeckel is out Saturday night, but Marcedes needs start making plays down the field if he wants his overstated “stone-hands” reputation to disappear.
Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds
With Russell Allen missing time while he recovers from injury, LaRoy Reynolds has gotten the bulk of the first team reps in practice. Reynolds has apparently been taking advantage of his time on the field and he’ll have a chance to impress even more in live action Saturday night. Reynolds has the versatility to play strong side and middle linebacker, a trait that should make him a lock on a roster with very little linebacker depth.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89